The Blackhawks are the Cup champs and poolies love the champs. I think this is an annual fact.
I don't think 2014 will be any different and I also believe that the Blackhawks will actually give their poolie followers good reason to pick them again. I am one who is to believe that the hangover might not be quite so bad, given that the season was short last year, so the wear and tear might not be so bad.
If everything goes well for the Blackhawks, I think there is going to be a sweet bounty of points, as you will see by my projections. Chicago has a wealth of talent in every position, so they'll be a tough team to beat on a nightly basis. Will you rush to get a piece of the action from Chicago?
Team Table (Players sorted by 2013 points)
Pool Worthy Forwards (35+ Points)
The core forwards for the Blackhawks, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, will be auditioning some teammates to join their exclusive club of high scoring weapons on this team and it will be the job of poolies everywhere to figure out who it is going to be. If you're able to figure it out, there's a good chance that it will put you in great shape in your hockey pool this year.
I think there is a good chance that Brandon Saad will be the guy that makes that jump and it will be an impressive one. The big four have found themselves on the shelf from time to time, so a kid like Saad could really take advantage, if they are either healthy or injured. He'll be a keen pick.
Otherwise, the depth will be hit and miss for the better part of the season. The team has some spots open on their list, which will likely be occupied by some youth. Drew LeBlanc looks like an interesting character, who could make the jump into a full-time position, so we'll see where he lands in training camp.
Pool Worthy Defensemen (20+ Points)
The backbone of the Blackhawks will be on the blueline, who are going to be tough to match in a lot of cases going into 2014. Between Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, the top two for Chicago are going to be popular, early on in pool drafts, since they will be beaming with confidence going into the new year.
Nick Leddy will be a pretty good pick-up for a number two or three defenseman this year, while you can find some depth out of Johnny Oduya or Michal Roszival, who should be able to chip in some points this year as well.
Pool Worthy Goalies (25+ Points)
The goaltending situation changes a little, between 2013 & 2014, as the Hawks will not have the duo that they can split time with all season, which should be much better for Corey Crawford's numbers, who will likely benefit from a few more minutes. Crawford should find a good number of points and should be a 1st round pick in most drafts
As back-up, Nikolai Khabibulin will likely see some time, but questions linger about the 40-year old's durability and value. The Blackhawks obviously saw enough in the Bulin Wall to give him $2 million for the 2014 season.
As mention earlier, I think Saad is going to be a key breakout player this year, while LeBlanc will probably be close as well. There are some spots available in the Chicago line-up, come training camp, so some of the youth will likely get their chance to breakout before the team goes looking for some veteran help, come playoff time.
None to mention.
No restricted free agents left to sign. Six roster slots open to all who are signed above.